Epilogue: New World
Nysse patted Mirrase’s back as she held the wailing child against her shoulder. She paced the children’s room, willing the tears of frustration away. In the crib, Rhylian whimpered. The huntress prayed to Elune that at least Alen would rest through it.
Try as she might, her daughter refused to sleep despite the darkness in the skies of Boralus. She was tired and cranky and stubborn. Nysse was equally so.
“Come on, my little one. Your brother is waiting for you.”
In the darkened apartment, it was difficult to notice when a silhouette shadowed the bedroom doorway, though the way the big night elf filled the little human-sized portal usually blocked the light on the other side. One of Rhese’s first lessons about their new apartment home in Boralus had been to duck through the doorways.
He approached Nysse and their squalling daughter quietly, his bare feet silent on the wooden floors. His hand was tender as he cupped her elbow and leaned by her ear so she could hear over Mirrase’s cries.
“My lovely, do you need a break? I can take her for a while so you can rest.”
The huntress sighed. “I appreciate the thought, but I doubt I’d rest anyway.” Her voice cracked at the end. Taking a deep breath, she looked at him and kept patting the babe’s back. “I’m sorry, Rhese. I’ll try to quiet her soon so you can sleep.”
“It’s… there’s been a lot of change, and I don’t think she likes it. Normally, I’d tuck her with Tsume, but…” She glanced at the window that overlooked the stables and grimaced.
She forced a weak smile. “Go back to bed, beloved. I’ll be fine.” The young woman refused to push her worry onto her mate. He was already stressed enough.
Rhese regarded them both tenderly, his amber eyes luminous like her silver ones, glowing softly in the dark. With Mirrase crying, it wasn’t quite the time for a heart to heart conversation, but he pressed a kiss to his mate’s cheek and added his big hand over hers to the baby’s tiny back.
“I’ll stay,” he rumbled. His thumb brushed over their daughter’s soft hair once before he stepped back to give her space.
The young woman eyed the corner of the room. There was always a risk that she’d fall asleep, but… She strode over to the rocking chair next to the cushioned chair she used to rest while feeding the twins. She settled in and shifted, looking for the small fur blanket she usually kept on the arm. It was cool enough that she didn’t have to worry about it being too thick if she wrapped Mirasse.
Rhese handed her the blanket from the seat as he settled in next to her. “Is this what you need, lovely?”
Nysse nodded and laid the girl on her lap, wrapping her firmly in the soft fur. The child suddenly quieted to a whimper, and her haggard mother slumped in relief. She began rocking, and Mirrase plopped her thumb into her mouth.
For a few precious seconds, there was peace and quiet, and the huntress laid her head back against the back of the chair, feeling her love’s warm regard in the dark.
And then a tiny cough from the other crib in the room preceded a new voice crying his infantile rage to the night. Rhese sighed and hopped to his feet, scooping Rhylian into his arms almost before Nysse could do more than raise her head and cuddle Mirrase closer. The huntress nearly sobbed when their daughter’s thumb escaped its happy place, and the screaming began again in earnest. And in deafening echo.
“Sh! Shh. Shuuuush, little moon,” the druid whispered, bouncing Rhy up and down. He grimaced and looked over to Nysse, sighing softly.
The huntress pushed to her feet, fighting her irritability. She walked to Rhese. “Do we bring them in with us, or do I get Tsume?”
She patted Mirrase’s bottom as she shifted her to her shoulder again. “I don’t know what else to do. They shouldn’t be hungry or anything else. I’ve checked. I’m terrified we’re going to wake Rhoe and Alen…”
Rhese tucked their son, squirmy and upset as he was, into the crook of his arm and reached his free hand out to cup Nysse’s cheek, an attempt to soothe the other upset person in the room. “Let me try, and maybe you can get Tsume if it doesn’t work. We know what our star wants. I think her brother just wants to be asleep, and now he’s angry that he isn’t.”
He brushed his mate’s hair back from her temple before borrowing the fur from her. Settling it neatly on the floor by his feet, he nestled Rhylian on half of it and then took a partial step back, his form folding into a shadowy cat with glowing amber eyes. Rhese leaned down to nuzzle the baby before he curled up around him with a weary sigh and tucked him into his gentle paws.
Nysse knelt by the furry mat and leaned against Rhese as she settled Mirrase down next to her brother. Both of their cries lowered to whimpers and whines as they squirmed against their father’s furry body. The young woman pressed a hand to her eyes as tears of relief rose to the surface.
Her voice was hushed and timid. “Maybe I can find a large toy wolf that I can have Tsume or you snuggle with so it smells like us…”
She was so exhausted that lying down next to them all seemed like a tempting option. When she lowered her hand, she stared at them almost blankly, struggling to think of anything. She didn’t notice that it was fully silent until her head drooped where she sat, and she looked up blearily, confused.
Her meandering gaze caught Rhese’s amber eyes as the cat watched her doze. His paws occupied, he only had a tail free to curl around her and nudge her closer. Stuck in his furred form, he could express little more than a soft rumble and a huff until she shifted closer, curling against his side behind the sleeping babies. Pleased, he flopped his tail over her hip and stretched back a bit to give her cheek a scratchy lick.
Nysse snuggled in with a sleepy smile, vaguely missing Tsume’s additional warmth, but much happier. It only took a few minutes before the family was asleep.
A short while later, Rhoelyn leaned against the nursery doorway, her silver-blue eyes a dull glow in the darkness that lit the sheen of drying tears on her cheeks as well as the warm smile that she leveled on the cuddly pile in the middle of the floor. She was a silver ghost with her long hair dangling down her back and her simple nightgown of pale silk, and she haunted the apartment’s short hall rather than face the fears and doubts that plagued her bed.
At that moment, gently unfolding the blanket that she had draped over her arm, she thought that perhaps a nightmare was a worthy price to pay to get to see her family like this: beautiful and peaceful and sleeping together in the center of the nursery floor.
It banished some of what drove her to wander.
Her bare feet silent on the wooden floor, she crept over and very gently laid the soft cover over Nysse, making sure it warmed her toes and tucking it around the huntress’ chilly shoulders. It spoke to her sister’s exhaustion that she didn’t even stir, but Rhoe didn’t linger and chance changing that state.
Instead, she straightened to find her feline brother’s amber eyes on her, and she smiled fondly. Of course the druid would wake. She could never be quiet enough to overcome the cat’s instincts, no matter how tired he was. There was no need for words, and no words could be certain not to wake anyone, so she just reached out and rested a hand on his furry shoulder, leaning down to give him a kiss on the temple. A thank you. And a goodnight.
Rhese licked her cheek before she could pull away, and it earned him extra warmth in her next smile as she retreated to the doorway. The priestess paused there and watched as her brother laid his head back down, but not before he rumbled a little goodnight and took one last loving look at his mate and their two sleeping infants. Taking stock. Counting blessings.
Rhoelyn stepped back into the hall when she knew he slept, again, feeling soothed by their peace. So she made her way back to the wonderful borrowed son who slept fitfully in her own bed, and she thanked Elune beneath her breath, in her heart, for bringing their family to safety. For adding to it. For keeping them together despite everything.
… and though a tiny voice at the saddest corner of her whispered about how they weren’t all together, she wiped at her suddenly-teary eyes and very purposefully decided that she hadn’t heard anything at all.